Syria unrest same as Britain's riots: Damascus envoy
Syria's UN ambassador said Wednesday that anti-government groups have killed 500 Syrian security forces and sparked diplomatic fury by comparing the deadly unrest to the riots in Britain.
Britain's UN representative dismissed Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari's "ludicrous" comparison between the handling of the worst British riots in a generation and the killing of protesters on the streets of Syrian cities. Rights groups say over 2,000 people, mainly protesters, have been killed.
After a Security Council meeting discussing President Bashar al-Assad's deadly crackdown on the opposition, Jaafari said 500 police officers and other security forces had been killed since pro-democracy protests grew into a full-scale uprising in mid-March.
Jaafari reprimanded European envoys for allegedly misleading reporters with false figures and information about Syria.
"They tried to manipulate the truth and to hide important facts and elements related to the so-called situation in Syria," said Jaafari, back in New York from meetings with Assad government officials in Damascus.
Jaafari blasted the "hypocrisy" and "arrogance" of Western powers for accepting British Prime Minister David Cameron's description of rioters as members of "gangs" and criticizing Syria when it uses such words for anti-Assad protesters.
"They don't allow us to use the same term for the armed groups and the terrorist groups in my country. This is hypocrisy, this is arrogance," he said.
"What happened in London, Birmingham and Bristol is only one percent maybe of what happened in some restive areas in my country. However, some people they don't want to acknowledge the reality."
Britain's deputy UN ambassador Philip Parham called Jaafari's comments "frankly absurd."
"In the United Kingdom, you have a situation where the government is taking measured, proportionate, legal, transparent steps to ensure the rule of law for its citizens," he said.
"In Syria, you have a situation where thousands of unarmed civilians are being attacked and many of them killed. That comparison made by the Syrian ambassador is ludicrous."
Cameron had earlier said "it is all too clear that we have a big problem with gangs in our country."
Jafaari also protested western descriptions of Assad's government as a "regime."
"I would not describe the government of Britain as 'regime,' I would not describe the chancellor of Germany as regime, I would not say the government of (French President Nicolas) Sarkozy is a regime," he said.
"Our president is democratically elected, equal to Sarkozy, (US President Barack) Obama and the German Chancellor (Angela Merkel)."
© 2011 AFP